Please join us for refreshments and interesting discussion of a wide range of books. Meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. at the Crescent Hill Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library.
Reading list and 2017 meeting schedule:
July 20: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (moderated by Candice Waters). The Pulitzer Prize-winning story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. When the Nazis occupy Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, carrying with them a priceless jewel. Meanwhile, the orphan Werner becomes an expert at building radios, which wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth. He travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. Doerr brilliantly describes the deprivations of war.
September 21: TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann (moderated by Carl Page) A tale of Ireland’s complicated ties with America. The book begins with three transatlantic crossings, each a novella within a novel: Frederick Douglas’s 1845 visit to Ireland; the 1919 flight of British aviators Alcock and Brown; and Senator George Mitchell’s 1998 attempt to mediate peace in Northern Ireland. McCann then loops back to 1863 to launch the saga of the women we’ve briefly met throughout Book One, beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, whose escape from her troubled homeland cracks open the world for her daughter and granddaughter. (Neal Thompson, Amazon.com.)
November 16: The Reason For God, by Timothy Keller (moderated by Shawn Wright). In this apologia for Christian faith, Keller mines material from literary classics, philosophy, anthropology, and a multitude of other disciplines to make an intellectually compelling case for God. In a tightly reasoned defense of faith, he tackles the most common issues that he has found to be stumbling blocks to nonbelievers, such as: “How can there be just one true religion?” “How could a good God allow suffering and send people to hell?” “Has science disproved Christianity?” And, “Can you take the Bible literally?” Keller also traces the modern concept of human rights back to religious roots and exposes the fragility of such rights when shorn from those roots. (From Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist)
Past discussions include:
January 19, 2017: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (moderated by Ken Billings). The Great Gatsby is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of American fiction. It tells of the mysterious Jay Gatsby’s grand effort to win the love of Daisy Buchanan, the rich girl who embodies for him the promise of the American dream. Deeply romantic in its concern with self-making, ideal love, and the power of illusion, it draws on modernist techniques to capture the spirit of the materialistic, morally adrift, post-war era Fitzgerald dubbed “the jazz age.”
March 16, 2017: Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee (moderated by Jeremy Pierre). Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Childhood memories flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt as a world in painful transition is portrayed.
May 18, 2017: Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand (moderated by Matt Hall). This is the inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. In evocative, immediate descriptions, Hillenbrand unfurls the story of Louie Zamperini—a juvenile delinquent-turned-Olympic runner-turned-Army hero. During a routine search mission over the Pacific, Louie’s plane crashed into the ocean, and what happened to him over the next three years of his life is a story that will keep you glued to the pages, eagerly awaiting the next turn in the story and fearing it at the same time.
March 17, 2016: State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett Pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to investigate the mysterious death of a colleague. But first she must locate the eccentric Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years studying a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond. Swenson is being paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. As Time magazine stated, Patchett “poses essential philosophical and bioethical arguments in a story reaching a deeply emotional crescendo.”
May 19, 2016: Summer for the Gods, by Edward L. Larson Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History, Larson’s book is regarded by many as the single most authoritative account of one of the 20th century’s most contentious dramas: the Scopes trial that pitted William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes in a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education. Larson has added a preface assessing the current state of the battle between creationism and evolution.
July 21, 2016: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy In his post-apocalyptic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, McCarthy tells the story of a father and son walking alone through burned-out America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other. McCarthy imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love.
September 15, 2016: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates Winner of the 2015 National Book Award, Ta-Nehisi Coates, in a letter to his adolescent son, explores what it is like to inhabit a black body. He considers how we can honestly reckon America’s history of race relations and free ourselves from its burden. He shares the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris.
November 17, 2016: A Spool of Blue Thread, by Ann Tyler. This is the story of the Whitshanks, one of those families that radiate togetherness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red’s grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor, in a poignant yet unsentimental story in praise of family in all its emotional complexity. Dr. Shawn Wright, Associate Professor of Church History at Southern Seminary, will lead the discussion.